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On their marks

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By Dan Johnson

Ryan and Bryn Haebe were seemingly built for anything that requires endurance.

At a young age, the brother-and-sister would frequently take the mountains, either on mountain bikes or by foot.

Their dad, Evergreen softball and boys basketball coach, Scott Haebe, noticed something peculiar during those family outings.

“I always thought to myself, for their age, they were able to go for a long time,” Haebe said. “It seemed like a natural progression for both of them to get into running.”

That was true, for one of the siblings anyway.

Ryan, 17, took up cross-country upon entering his freshman year at Evergreen High School. Initially, he chose the sport as a way to improve his conditioning for basketball season.

But, it turned out rather quickly that Ryan had the goods as he made the varsity team. Once that happened, he began to take the sport more seriously than he first imagined he would.

“Making varsity definitely changed my mental outlook,” Ryan said. “I knew that if I really focused, I could be good.”

Ryan showed everyone a glimpse of how good he could be in 2007, finishing 12th at the Class 4A state cross-country meet in Colorado Springs. Now in his final year with the Cougars, Ryan has been dominating the competition at local events. He’s won races such as the Dave Sanders Memorial Invitational and placed fourth at perhaps the biggest regular season meet, the Liberty Bell at Heritage High School.

With state fast approaching, Haebe knows how he wants his story to end.

“Right now I’m ranked eighth in the state,” Ryan said. “At state, I want to get top-five. I’ve been training hard and all my focus is on it.”

While Ryan seemingly jumped right in to the cross-country fray, Bryn needed a little coaxing.

She was content playing softball under her dad’s direction and really didn’t envision herself as a runner. Last year, as a freshman, Bryn, 15, played softball and ran cross-country.

After prying from both her brother and father, Bryn decided to give up softball and concentrate on running full-time. Again, another smart move by a Haebe.

“It was a pretty easy call for me to make,” Scott Haebe said. “She saw Ryan having the success he had and she seemed to really like the social aspect. So, I told her to devote all of her time to running and I definitely think she made the right decision.”

Over the summer, Bryn and Ryan trained together, and the younger Haebe feels that time together was instrumental in her putting together the solid season she has this year as a sophomore.

“Ryan obviously runs faster than me so I think it helped push me because I had to work hard to try and stay with him,” Bryn said.

Like her brother, Bryn has a couple of specific goals in mind as she prepares to wrap up her season.

“I really want to run under 19 minutes,” Bryn said. “I’m really working for that and would like to get top-20 at state.”

The relationship formed by the brother and sister (they each run track and play basketball in addition to cross-country) has been a tight one dating back to their early childhood. So, don’t expect any type of sibling rivalry here. More like healthy competition.

“We always want to do our best and support each other,” Bryn said. “We really enjoy running together. We compete for places and times, but we definitely support each other.”

Watching Ryan and Bryn achieve the type of success they’ve had the past two years has been a blessing for their dad.

“It’s nice that they are doing well in a sport I’m not in,” Scott Haebe said. “It’s not ‘your dad is the coach.’ Everything they’ve done has been on their own. It’s great from that aspect.”